The Spectrum of Healthcare Consumerism: A Revolution is at Hand

blindersAt the core of Express Scripts’ Consumerology products and services is something we call the healthcare consumerism spectrum. This is our visual reminder that consumerism in healthcare is much broader than financial incentives and brochures. It’s far bigger than consumer driven healthcare’s approach of more skin in the game, data integration, and managing account balances.*

At one end of the spectrum is good, solid consumer marketing science: segmentation, inline testing, predictive modeling, and related applications. This is a major focus for Express Scripts, with exciting improvements in the performance of our communications and member interactions. It’s not cheap, and it’s not easy, but it’s incredibly valuable given the importance of effective communication with our members.

At the other end of the spectrum is an advanced, applied understanding of why people do what they do. Applying behavioral economics is a big part of this area of work for us. What’s exciting about this end of the spectrum is that it’s emerged as a powerful force over the past few years, and is nothing short of a revolution.

And as Stephen Quartz at Psychology Today notes, it’s a revolution that’s being fueled by a technological breakthrough (the ability to non-invasively image the healthy human brain at work) and a cultural shift (the eagerness of folks from across disciplines to work together on some of the most interesting problems):

…Something quite unexpected began happening a few years ago. Researchers in fields traditionally far away from brain science — such as economics and political science — and brain scientists began a conversation. They found deep commonalities beyond the surface differences of their disciplines and began the collaborations that underlie the revolution I am writing of. As I’ll explore in this blog in the weeks and months to come, these collaboration are linking our individual and collective decision making to underlying brain processes. In so doing, they are uncovering the clues that tie together brain, mind, and society and are creating the foundations of a new understanding of ourselves and society.

This is something we’re excited to be a part of. If you haven’t, take a look around the Consumerology website. Let us know what you’re thinking. Most of all, join us as we work to bring about the convergence of fields like behavioral economics and healthcare.

* There’s nothing wrong with this stuff; we’re deep into it.  But we recognize that effecting positive behavior change is going to take more than financial incentives and education alone.

(Note: this entry originally appeared at

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